GARETH Ainsworth said it's vital he keeps Josh Scowen at Wycombe Wanderers for a very long time, as team mate Jo Kuffour hailed his massive influence on the team.

The 20-year-old's two game absence through suspension had been keenly felt as Blues kept conceding midfield possession against Plymouth and York.

Both the games Scowen missed ended in defeat and he showed how important he is to Wanderers' fortunes as he broke up countless attacks from Cheltenham Town last night and rarely wasted a pass.

The midfielder has become a key player after being given his first start for Blues by Ainsworth last season.

His contract is up at the end of next season and Ainsworth is keen to tie him down to an even longer deal.

He said: "He's an outstanding talent. I'll do my best now to keep this boy long term because he's such an asset to the club. We need to keep hold of these players.

"He's slotted right in to his defensive midfield role. He understands the game really well. He was at the heart of everything, attacking and defending - he's an outstanding prospect."

Striker Kuffour agreed Scowen had been sorely missed and said he was impressed with his performance in last night's 1-1 draw against Cheltenham.

He said: "He does the role really well that Gaz asks him to do, sweeps up everything. He was key today.

"He's a massive influence on the team. He gets all over the pitch, he's very good at anticipating things.

"As you saw today, he's what we've been missing in the last two games."